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Regenerative Agriculture

Embu County in the highlands of Kenya heavily relies on the agricultural sector both as the principal source of food and nutrition and as the backbone of the economy. The majority of the population (70%) derives their livelihood from crop production and livestock keeping.

Key commodities produced by farmers in Embu are maize, dairy cattle, bananas and beans.

The region’s favourable rainfall patterns and high agricultural potential positions it as one of the leading food baskets of Kenya.

The problem

A growing population and climate related-shocks threaten agricultural productivity due to ongoing land subdivisions and soil degradation as a result of overgrazing, over-cropping, erosion and poor farming methods.

Government agricultural extension services are limited due to insufficient funds, ageing staff and poor links to research institutions. The ratio of government extension workers to farmers is just 1:1,200 against the expected 1:400 MOALF.

What are we doing?

Through training 50 farmer groups, each with 200 members, the regenerative agriculture project will increase production and incomes, and boost the resilience of 10,000 farmers in Embu through reformative agricultural practices that will improve soil health and food security in the face of climate change.

The 15-month project will run from July 2020 to October 2021.

Strengthening private sector-led extension services 

The project will develop a technical curriculum in good agricultural practices for regenerative agriculture and business management.

The training course will be delivered to 100 private village-based advisors (VBAs) and six ward agricultural officers, who in turn will train the 10,000 farmers.

The VBAs will also play a critical role in linking farmers to both input and output markets.

Increasing productivity 

Regenerative agriculture involves farming practices that rejuvenate soil health. The project will encourage an inter-cropping system of maize and high-yielding, nitrogen-fixing climbing beans, alongside agroforestry crops such as Calliandra Calothyrsus and Leucaena Spp to improve soil fertility and provide staking material for the climbing beans.

We will work with village-based advisors to establish 50 demonstration plots to spur faster uptake and transfer of skills to individual farms.

Improving collective marketing and aggregation  

Collective marketing and aggregation of climbing beans and maize will be improved through the training of three aggregators in warehouse management, grain quality, seasonal marketing strategies and production plans.

A total of 20 aggregation centres will be established and the aggregators’ capital access will be widened through linkages to financial services providers.

Project partners

Funded by the IKEA Foundation through AGRA

CGA, IIRR, County Government of Embu Department of Agriculture